Get the exclusive (almost) Weekly Digest.

    Quitting Coffee {and Tea and Other Caffeinated Yummies…}

    September 1, 2010 by Brandy Vencel

    I have a confession. Up until recently, I have been quite addicted to coffee. I’m not sure if it was the caffeine, the sugar, or both, but what I do know is that I had classic symptoms of addiction. I needed it first thing in the morning. It didn’t last me all morning, so I needed another midmorning {around 10:30am}. Added to this was the “afternoon slump.” Every gardener in California is taking a siesta at 1:00pm, and if I didn’t have my third cup {and, sadly, by “cup” I mean 12 ounces–my extra-large cup}, I would find myself snoozing, too.

    Something had to change.

    I knew it, and so last summer I planned to quit. But when my husband ended up in a coma in the hospital, I added cups to my day to make it through. I wasn’t sleeping, and I was living off of caffeine {or was that sugar?}. Later in the summer, I made an attempt at quitting, but my withdrawals were bad {headaches, grumpiness, etc.}, and with my husband still recovering, I had to run the house entirely by myself. It was not a good time for withdrawals.

    It was around the time of this failed attempt that I decided that, as unhealthy as it was, perhaps I was going to have to wait until my children were older to try to quit. After all, I am with them all day long. They need me, and they need the best me I can give them. If coffee helped me give them my best, then so be it.

    But I wasn’t really comfortable with it, and I knew this made me a slave.

    A slave to coffee.

    But what could I do? A person in withdrawals is still a slave.

    This past June, I read a blog post that gave me hope: How to Quit Coffee. The title alone snagged me. I think I shared it in my sidebar, but I didn’t want to blog about this until I knew for myself that it worked.

    And let me tell you: it worked for me.

    And I am finally free.

    Liberty is a beautiful thing, my friends.

    Our school year is going so much better thanks to my new-found freedom. No longer am I dragging, yearning for Circle Time to be over so that I can brew my next cup. My 1pm slump is barely noticeable. I guess it all boils down to stamina. Last year, I was at the mercy of the Coffee Rollercoaster. I organized our Average Day around my energy tides. At high tide, we did school, and at low tide, I ran away with a cup of coffee, trying to force in that next tide. Now, we have an even flow, which we need because I am realizing already that though this plan worked well for me last year, adding students over the years is going to make it increasingly difficult to accomplish all of our learning during “Mom’s high tide.”

    How I Did It

    Here’s the thing. I’m going to tell you what I did, as long as we agree that this method may or may not work for you. I mean, I am definitely a believer now in the method, but just because I tell you that I took a certain pill at a certain time of day at a certain dosage doesn’t mean that the same will work for you. You might need a different pill in a different amount. Each person is an individual.

    Okay. So I…

    1. Bought DLPA {DL-Phenylanine}. I take 1000 mg, twice daily. My first dose is right before the time I’d normally have my coffee. The second dose is around the time of my usual afternoon slump.
    2. Make sure I’m eating a large enough breakfast. Julia Ross, author of The Diet Cure and The Mood Cure has much to say about breakfast. She says that it is the only meal of the day that can actually boost your metabolism {this means energy}. Because of this, she suggests that breakfast be about a third of your daily calories {she also suggests that, generally speaking, women consume 2500 calories per day, and men 3000–making breakfast very high cal}. I always eat breakfast, but it isn’t very big. I’m making it bigger {and higher in protein} by adding nuts, coconut oil, and raw eggs to our smoothies, for instance. Same meal, higher in calories and protein.
    3. Try to get enough sleep. This has been hard for me the past few weeks, but I know that the key to managing my energy without caffeine is to start my day from a place of rest.

    And that’s all. {Well, we already eat similarly to what Julia Ross suggests. If I had been consuming lots of high-starch simple carbs like white flour and white sugar, I would probably have needed to cut that out, too.}

    I started all of this without actually reading Julia Ross’s books, but I’m reading them now and I am amazed. I finished The Diet Cure a couple days ago, and what I see is that she has managed to harness a combination of nutritional supplementation, amino acid supplementation {that’s what DLPA is}, eating well {according to Ms. Ross, not diet gurus}, and therapy to cure all sorts of serious addictions, obsessions, and eating disorders.

    I am very impressed with what I’ve read, and I’m even more impressed now that I’ve used her methods and found freedom from my coffee dependency.

    You see, the difference between using Ross’s methods and quitting cold turkey is huge. I quit almost effortlessly (the first five days were a little tricky, but nothing unbearable)–no withdrawals, no cravings.

    No kidding.

    I look forward to reading The Mood Cure, where she discusses overcoming depression, anxiety, irritability, stress, apathy, oversensitivity, etcetera.

    I am reminded of Charlotte Mason here. {It’s not that big of a jump, I promise.} Do you remember that, as one of her foundations for learning, we had to foster an environment for healthy brains? She listed diet, exercise, sunlight, sleep, and so on. Charlotte was very interested in making it easy for our brains to be healthy, so that learning could go smoothly. I can’t help but think that she would have read this book with fascination.

    Get the (almost) weekly digest!

    Weekly encouragement, direct to your inbox, (almost) every Saturday.

    Powered by ConvertKit
    Print Friendly, PDF & Email


  • Reply At School with Charlotte: Making Heroes (Part 2) | Afterthoughts September 1, 2019 at 6:32 pm

    […] I think this is something we all grow into. I know when I was 20 I certainly felt like I had the right to do what I wished with myself, within reason at least. It wasn’t until I had children that I began to feel the press of obligation. Without them, I would still be a caffeine addict. […]

  • Reply Brandy Afterthoughts September 6, 2010 at 8:54 pm


    Good luck on quitting! I hope Ross’s methods work as well for your as they did for me.


    I will be sure to stock up on my herbal teas before your next visit. (Whenever that is… πŸ™ ) An added benefit to herbal teas is that I can drink them with the children now instead of saying, as I used to, that they had to wait until they were grown to drink it with me!

  • Reply Kristen V September 5, 2010 at 3:49 am

    That’s wonderful, Brandy! Freedom from addiction is always worth celebrating. I am also glad that your summer has been much easier this time around (compared to last summer)! I look forward to sharing a mean cup of herbal tea with you next time we are together. Love you!

  • Reply Beth West September 4, 2010 at 2:05 pm

    Over the past few weeks I’ve learned to drink my coffee black, which is a huge improvement for me, because I’m sure that my “addiction” is the double combo of caffeine and sugar.

    The timing of your post is perfect as I feel ready now to cut down and hopefully end the consumption of coffee. I just ordered The Mood Cure and The Diet Cure from the library and I’m looking forward to reading them.

    Congratulations on your success in becoming caffeine free and thanks so much for sharing with us about it.

  • Reply Brandy Afterthoughts September 4, 2010 at 3:00 am

    Gracie, We can drink decaf together (or herbal tea) and it will still be lovely. I just won’t be really hyped up when we are done. πŸ™‚

    I could still make your birthday cake, if that helps. πŸ™‚

  • Reply Gracie September 3, 2010 at 7:56 am

    What?! So is there a point for me to come out to visit anymore?!?!?! πŸ™‚ Ok, on a serious note, I’m proud of you Bran. For many, this is a very hard thing to break from. I haven’t been drinking coffee either. I think it actually makes me more sleepy. It’s strange. Love ya!

  • Reply Brandy Afterthoughts September 2, 2010 at 3:41 am


    I am not one to think that coffee is always bad for all people all of the time. But addiction is, and I have to admit that I was not the one in control. πŸ™ With that said, if you can cut back to weekends without freaking out, you are probably not addicted! Siah still wanted to have our Saturday cup together, so I bought a bag of decaf for that and to serve at small group when I host! I don’t want to interrupt my relationships with others, for sure.

    I just bought a box of rooibos tea (naturally caffeine free) and I’m sweetening it with xylitol (for my teeth…I can drink it without just fine) and fattening it up with a dollop of heavy cream. I am finding that since I am craving-free, something simple like that is just as satisfying. I don’t know that I’d ever want to give up having cozy warm drinks! πŸ™‚


    Is it just me or were you also shocked at the amount of food suggested? I was very intimidated. I kept thinking–I can’t eat that much! With that said, getting a picture of how much protein I need with each meal has been really, really helpful. I think I underfed my children (especially my girls, because they are light eaters) on protein, too, without realizing it, so now I am using their palms when I dish up their plates, to see if I got their portions correct. I am looking forward to The Mood Cure. We have some OCD (obsessive-compulsive disorder) in folks on both sides of our family, so I’m curious to see what she has to say.

    About vitamins: I have always thought of vitamins as necessary to healing. What I don’t understand is why we can’t get to the point where we can eat good food and be fine. That annoys me!

  • Reply Mystie September 2, 2010 at 3:30 am

    Good for you!

    I also enjoyed the book, and took a full page of notes off of it — just notes for myself, but not enough to pull together a cohesive blog post after having to return the book to the library.

    I read Diet Cure and then only skimmed Mood Cure. Mood Cure is probably the one I needed more, and it seemed to be the same thing, but with a different focus. Getting enough sleep factored high in it, and I heartily concur, but there’s not much I can do about that at this point.

    The main change I made after reading the book was to really go after proteins during each meal. I now have a better grasp on how much I should be shooting for. Low blood sugar hits me hard, and I had been eating salad lunches without enough calories and with hardly any protein (I was already a big protein breakfast person). Now a can of tuna is my “need lunch now” solution, whereas I used to resort to sugar.

    Also, I was inspired by the book to try totally cutting aspartame out. I go on cycles of having Diet Pepsi and not having it, and I had been on a several-month Diet-Pepsi-in-the-afternoon binge. I stopped (I replaced it with iced tea at first, now I’m just having water) and my afternoon headaches and junk-food (and more pop) cravings also stopped! I thought I was just prone to headaches (for years), but I have had very few since cutting aspartame.

    I made myself a supplement regimen (much more conservative and cautious than her recommendations, since I am still nursing). I’ve made a lot of changes over the course of the last couple months, and so I don’t know if the vitamins really have made any difference at all. I’m a vitamin skeptic who yet *wants* it to be valid. πŸ™‚

    I’m still working on increasing our veggie consumption. I get 4 cups a day several days a week, but not every single day.

  • Reply Women of Sovereign Grace September 1, 2010 at 11:40 pm

    I read this title and thought, oh no! Why?!? Ha ha! But I know why, and I am so very happy for you. As always, your decisions are based on lots of research and information. You are constantly writing on things that I want to archive “for later use”. I am not quite ready yet. I did cut back to coffee only on the weekends…but I have two cups on Saturday and Sunday. Weekdays, I drink chai tea bags while I have my quiet time. Lately, though, I have been switching the chai for kombucha. So summery!

  • Leave a Reply